The North-South Divide, 2



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odd job election lead/led/led
rate divide (2) unemployment
dent (2) contend traditional
require massive inconceivable
hurt stimulate stand up to
suffer extortion protection money
fear complain demand (2)
fear tackle (2) caught up in
crime denounce organized crime
reality contradict investigation
tactic command think twice
join (3) enormous dilapidated
recent sense (2) stranglehold
civil (2) weigh (2) phenomenon
region imprison infrastructure
rate inefficient stagnation
luxury contribute particularly
able show (3) territory (2)
benefit estimate civil engineer
odd spiral (2) cutting edge
sign up motivate enthusiasm
lack prospect opportunity
GDP graduate prosperous
brain capital (3) human resources
drain diploma brain-drain
suburb courage founder (2)
based specialize generation (2)
task repetitive on the other hand
decide reflect (2) innovation
boast full-time challenge (2)
set up field (2) productive
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Today’s report is from Italy, where the lack of a coalition government means there could be an unprecedented, second general election in the same year.

Whoever ends up leading the country will have to contend with the deep, north-south divide: southern Italy is poorer, and unemployment there far higher.

Also the Mafia puts a massive dent in the economy.


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In this restaurant in Palermo, preparing traditional dishes requires skill — and also courage: for six years now, Natale Giunta has been living under twenty-four (24) hour police protection, ever since he denounced an attempted extortion by Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia.

Natalle Giunta, Restaurant Owner and Chef: “One day two men came in. They said to me, ‘You must give two-thousand euros (€2,000) a month, and four-thousand at Christmas and Easter—otherwise, we’ll really decide to hurt you’.”

Unlike Natale, who has stood up to Cosa Nostra, many others in Sicily continue to suffer from extortion, and pay the pizzo, the protection money demanded by the Mafia.

Natalle Giunta, Restaurant Owner and Chef: “The Mafia use fear tactics; those who have a family think twice about denouncing them. Because if you denounce then, you get caught up in a spiral, and you don’t know what might happen to you tomorrow.

Starting a business in the South is very difficult.”

A few kilometers from the restaurant is Ballero, the oldest market in the history center of Palermo.

Here the rule of amerta prevails; it’s inconceivable to talk about organized crime.

Market Seller One: “Go and ask someone else . . .”
Market Seller Two: “What do you want me to say? I’d be talking about something I know nothing about.”
Market Seller Three: “What ‘pizzo’? What are you talking about? There nothing like that here.”

A reality contradicted by a conversation among Mafia members, filmed by the police during an investigation.

Mafioso One: “In Ballaro there are two-thousand (2,000) businesses, and they all pay. And no one complains! There even the poorest pay €2,000 to €3,000 a month.”

Colonel Di Stasio commands the Carabinieri in Palermo. He tackles the control that the Mafia have on the economy on a daily basis.

Colonel Antonio Di Stasio, Commanding Officer of the Carabinieri in Palermo: Where there is money, the Mafia will show an interest. Cosa Nostra is an enormous business. It needs money to pay members of imprisoned Mafia members.

And through extortion, they keep a stranglehold on their territory.”

According to recent estimations, Mafia extortion cost the Italian economy a hundred billion euros per year, a phenomenon that weighs particularly heavy on the Mezzogiorno, the countries southern poorer regions.

Dilapidated infrastructure, inefficient management and a record rate of unemployment, all contribute to the economic stagnation of the southern half of the country.

In Sicily 58% of all young people are unemployed.

Twenty-seven year old Rosario, graduated from university a year ago. Since then, he has been unable to find a full-time job.

This morning, we are joining him at the job center.

Rosario: “Good morning, I’ve come to sign up.”
Job Counselor: “Do you have a diploma?”
Rosario: “Yes, I got my degree a year ago. I’m a civil engineer and architect. I’d really like to get a real job now.”

Rosario’s done odd jobs for months now, and fears that finding a real, proper, full-time job is still far off.

Rosario Altopiano, Unemployed Young Graduate: “It’s really demotivating because I went to university with a lot of enthusiasm. But as time goes on, it’s difficult to have a sense of my prospects.

I want to have the opportunity to build myself a future.”

Due to the lack of opportunities, many people leave in search of a better future in the North, particularly to Lombardy, one of the most prosperous regions in Europe.

In Milan the capital, the GDP is more than double that of the South.

Francesco Giavazzi, Economist: “The success of the North is due to the huge capital, and what’s interesting is that a large part of this human resources comes from the South, regions like Publia, Calabria, Campania and Sicily.”

A brain-drain that benefits companies at the cutting edge of technology, like this small business based in the suburbs of Milan, specialized in robotics.

Fabio: “These are our new generation industrial robots. They help factory workers with repetitive tasks. And this on the other hand is a service robot. ‘Ciao Sambot.’
Service Robot: “Ciao, Fabio.

Fabioo Fachinetti, Co-Founder, Alumotion: “We have young engineers who come from the South to work with us. Innovation is stimulated by the market. The north of Italy is more productive than the South.

And for businesses, that means more businesses and more challenges.”

The North boasts a concentration of luxury businesses, particularly in the field of fashion and design.

Lorenza Lutti, Marketing Manager, Kartell: “For us, Lombardy, Milan, it’s the capital of fashion and design. So we couldn’t possibly set up elsewhere.

And without a doubt, all the Italian firms in an around Milan feel the energy.”

An energy that reflects the huge gap between the North and the South. The country seems to be divided into two separate Italies, both moving at different speeds, unable to connect.


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1. All parts of Italy are exactly the same in terms of wealth, economy and way of life. True or false?

2. What is Natalle Giunta’s profession or occupation? Is he a brave man?

3. How does the Mafia operate in Sicily? What do they do?

4. Everyone in Sicily complains and protests against the Mafia. Is this right or wrong?

5. Why is southern Italy poorer and has more unemployment than norther Italy?

6. All the unemployed in Italy are high school dropouts and uneducated people. Is this correct or incorrect?

7. Is northern Italy, especially Lombardy and Milan slightly less poor than Sicily and southern Italy? What are some industries of the North?


A. Are there regional difference in your country in terms of development and wealth?

B. Why are there geographical differences in wealth and development?

C. What should governments do? What can (young) people do?

D. Is there a “Mafia” in your area? What do they do?

E. Are things changing? What will happen in the future?

F. What do people in your country think of Italy?

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